St. Maarten in Memory of the World Programme


Education Minister Silveria Jacobs (centre) with Blijden (left) and Henry (right).

PHILIPSBURG — St. Maarten has the first entry of its documented heritage in the Memory of the World Register for Latin America and the Caribbean.

  The Memory of the World (MoW) Programme is a UNESCO initiative created in 1992, aimed at preserving the documentary heritage of the world – housed in libraries, archives and museums – as a symbol of the collective memory of humanity. It calls for the preservation of valuable archival holdings, library collections and private individual collections. A range of formats are embraced under the rubric “documentary heritage” such as paper, music, videos, scrolls, art, stone and fabric.


  “This heritage reflects the diversity of the people, cultures and languages; it belongs to everyone and must be fully preserved, protected permanently and be easily accessible,” it was stated in a press release on Monday.

   St. Maarten submitted for consideration from the Civil Registry “the Slaven Register 1863,” one volume with the names of all the slaves who were freed in St. Maarten when slavery was abolished, including their ages, sexes and children, and from the Archives “Brieven aan Diversen,” dated September 10, 1847, to April 17, 1861, and April 20, 1861 to December 23, 1863, representing various correspondences between the government of St. Maarten and the governments of the various islands related to runaway slaves and concerning the aftermath of the abolition of slavery in the English and French territories.

  The committee also recommended that this submission be sent on to UNESCO for consideration for the International Register, which was also accepted, and the certificate of acceptance will be made available soon.

  Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Silveria Jacobs was presented with a copy of the certification of induction by Alphonso Blijden and UNESCO Secretary-General Marcellia Henry. Jacobs congratulated Blijden and Henry on the “great accomplishment for St. Maarten.”

  The Memory of the World Programme has three main objectives, the first being to facilitate preservation, by the most appropriate techniques, of the world’s documentary heritage.

  The second is to assist universal access to documentary heritage, by means of activities that encourage the production of numbered copies and catalogues available on the Internet, as well as the publication and distribution of books, CDs, DVDs and other products, widely and equitably as possible.

  Where access has implications for custodians, these are respected. Legislative and other limitations on the accessibility of archives are recognised. Cultural sensitivities, including indigenous communities’ custodianship of their materials and their guardianship of access, will be honoured. Private property rights are guaranteed in law.

  The third objective is to increase awareness worldwide of the existence and significance of documentary heritage. This will include, but is not limited to, developing the Memory of the World registers, the media and promotional and informational publications. Preservation and access, of themselves, not only complement each other, but also raise awareness, as access demand stimulates preservation work. The making of access copies to relieve pressure on the use of preservation materials is encouraged.

Source: The Daily Herald